When It Hurts To Breathe

I don’t get knocked down by sickness very easily; but when the doctor calls and says the X-ray showed Pneumonia, it’s time to stop trying to be so strong. I’m now on the 7th day of antibiotic, and I’ve done pretty well with working on stuff for a while, resting for a while. It has hurt to breathe. Each breath, each cough, seemingly bruising my fluid-swollen lung… more.

The parallel is amazing. Life has sucked the breath out of me lately. It’s been hard to breathe figuratively, and then it became hard to breathe literally. Some days I so want to quit. Stop trying. Just cry. Then I feel like a failure. And cry some more. Just worn down.

Life is hard. Harder than I ever imagined it would be.

So this morning as I was driving, God took my mind to the crucifixion. Asphyxiation. The fact that Jesus endured the most awful hard-to-breath experience. With each breath, He must have felt that He was dying… even though it wasn’t time to let go. He went through the unimaginable for me… for you. He died, but then He came back to life! Who am I to be beaten down by a little pneumonia? Who am I to be beaten down by the cares in MY life?

So here it is. I have hope today. Not because of me or anything that I have done. I can get through this because HE is in me. He is WITH me. He is my STRENGTH.

Does it hurt for you to breathe? Is life so overwhelming that you want to quit? Don’t. Just go to the Savior. He loves you and wants to be your strength! Let Him breathe for you.

Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

Some of those who stood by, when they heard that, said, “Look, He is calling for Elijah!” Then someone ran and filled a sponge full of sour wine, put it on a reed, and offered itto Him to drink, saying, “Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to take Him down.”

And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last.

Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said,

“Truly this Man was the Son of God!”

Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away—for it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.

But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.

He is risen! He is not here.

See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.”

Mark 15:33-39 & 16:1-6

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 

Psalm 18:2

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RE:FOCUS – The Armored Home

 

>RE:FOCUS - Clear the Mechanism

I wrote this a few years ago and realized this morning that it is an extension of last Monday’s post, so it’s time to share again. This is an area in which I (and I’m sure we all) need to revisit often. Satan is attacking our marriages and families HARD! Let’s keep each other accountable to protect the very gift that God has given each one of us.

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Armored cars amaze me. How they make those vehicles to withstand bullets, explosions, accidents, etc. is beyond my realm of understanding. These specialized cars serve a purpose… to protect what’s inside.

Our homes need to be built with specialized armor, as well, to protect the marriages inside. We live in a fallen, stressful world. Kids, money struggles, out-of-whack priorities, stress, and so many other day-to-day things distract us from ensuring that our Ephesians 6 armor is in place in our homes. But when we put that armor in place, it will change us. It will change our marriages. It will change our children. It will change our lives.

So how can we establish this armor in our homes? Here are some practical tools for protection:

  • Pray “without ceasing” for your marriage.
  • Choose your words to each other carefully. Words hurt and can cause permanent damage.
  • Date nights are a must, but so is “couch time” everyday. Carving out some time for each other everyday, just to talk, is imperative for a protected marriage… an armored home.
  • Ask each other regularly, “What can I do to be a better wife/husband?” This opens up communication and gives more opportunities to meet each other’s needs.
  • Keep your private thought life pure and positive. Don’t let impure, negative thoughts stay in your mind. Have scriptures ready to fight attacks on your mind… and cut out ANYTHING that is affecting you in a destructive way.
  • Avoid close male-female friendships. They are dangerous. When you have a close friendship with someone of the opposite sex, you are allowing someone else to fill a role that only your husband should fill.
  • Most importantly, remind yourself that it’s not about you. Marriage is about self-sacrifice and give-and-take.

Marriage is hard. But when we do it God’s way, we realize that it is a gift like no other. The fact that God chose a life companion for each of us is such a blessing. And by taking measures everyday to protect our homes with armor, we can experience marriages full of joy… God’s deep kind of joy.

Challenge for this week: Start putting your armor in place. Communicate with your husband. Honor him. Protect him. Be selfless. Pray for him and memorize scripture about being a Godly wife. Be careful with your thought life and your words. I believe you will see a big difference in your most important earthly relationship.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” – Ephesians 6:12-13

Prayer: Dear Jesus, please make me the woman, wife, and mother you want me to be. I ask You to guide me to establish permanent armor in our home, so that nothing can destroy it. Your word gives us all the tools we need. Thank you for that. Father, I pray that my marriage will become the companionship that you created it to be… that we will keep You first in everything and that we will love each other the way you have called us to.

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Mommy Peace

It’s been a rebuilding year in our household. The year of going back to the foundation of our home and family, and to make sure we were all on the right track… together.

After working outside of the home and pouring my life into other people more than I poured into my family, I came home and we decided to homeschool. With children ages 9, 6, and 3, this was quite the undertaking for someone who has always spent most of her daytime hours AWAY from the house.

I could write an entire book about what all we learned throughout the year, but one lesson stands out more than the others. It’s more of an observation made, really. My observation is that the massive army of us who are called “Mom” seem to be at war with each other. Seriously. It gets ugly sometimes….

Read the full article by clicking here to be redirected to VoiceBoks, where I am guest posting today: Mommy Peace. Then come back here and let me know your thoughts. 🙂

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Homeschool Planet – A Review

Homeschool-Planet-Logo-Hi_Res%20872x_zpsirhewxf1Looking for an all-inclusive program to organize your homeschool… and your life?!?! Homeschool Planet is probably the solution for you. I searched and searched, tried different programs for keeping everything organized and simple, but Homeschool Planet is the software that I ended up using for our first homeschool year. I was also given a free year of the subscription for sharing this review for all of you. This program was created by the Homeschool Buyers Co-Op and offers a free trial, so you can make sure it’s the right fit for your family before you actually buy it.

Homeschool Planet is the most user-friendly online program I have found anywhere. It literally includes everything you will need. I’m sure I haven’t even used all of the fun features that are included… so many options. You can set up individual accounts within your profile, and the kids can even have their own logins so they can view only their assignments. Here are some of the awesome features within Homeschool Planet:

  • Different views so you can see your classes/schedule in whatever format you need, including a calendar view so you can see all calendars at once and a planner view so you can simply see everything you need to do and when.
  • Email and text message reminders to help everyone stay on schedule. Daily digest emails that can go to the whole family so everyone can see their schedule, assignments, and even their chores for the day.
  • Attendance tracking.
  • Transcript creation.
  • Compatible with Google Calendar, iCal, and other online calendars.
  • Mobile version that allows you to edit on smartphones.
  • A rescheduling helper that pops up when you log on. It reminds you to check off completed assignments and grades in a BULK format. So incredibly easy to do, so that you don’t have to go into individual kids and classes to record grades. If you haven’t completed one or more assignments, you can reschedule them or just leave them ungraded if you prefer.
  • To-Do lists, shopping lists, lesson plans with assignments, web links, notes, lesson copying, text message sending, meal plan creation, and so much more.

Here are a few sample screenshots of what it looks like to actually use Homeschool Planet:

This is a pop-up helper that offers resources and helps to get started…

Online%20Help%20Video_zpspdelzcv6This is what it looks like in calendar view…

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This is planner view…

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This is the “manage family” pop-up. As you can see, you can track attendance, logins, and other information for each person in the family…

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There are many options for printing reports. How I used it was to print out each child’s daily schedule individually and put it at his/her desk to make sure we stayed on track through the day. I have little ones, so it was mostly for me to stay on track. 🙂 You can also print the whole group on one report, one day on a report, the week ahead on a report, etc.

Honestly, after trying others, I just don’t believe there is a better online program for keeping everything organized in a busy homeschooling mama’s life. If you’ve never checked into it, make sure you go to this page for a free trial: Homeschool Planet.

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The Ripken Way – Review & Baseball Package Giveaway!

***CONGRATULATIONS TO DANA BOWMAN! You are the winner or the Ripken Baseball Package! Thanks to everyone who entered!***

Today’s post is sponsored by Ripken Baseball through the Bloggy Moms Network.

ripken-way-headerI’ve always loved baseball. It’s pretty much in my blood. The smell of outfield grass and hot dogs, the chalk dust, the chatter, the familiar tunes, the sounds of ball-hitting-glove and bat-hitting-ball, and every single baseball movie ever made!

My preteen/teenage Saturdays were spent at the ballpark watching my little brother, along with other boys I knew and liked. In high school, I was the manager of the JV baseball team (which meant I could keep a pretty mean scorebook and make sure stats were correct). 🙂 Then there was softball, which I played until I started having babies… and throughout all of this time, a deep love for the game of baseball and the Atlanta Braves.

So now, our oldest son loves baseball just like his mama. It’s fun to watch him as he learns the fundamentals and grows into a stronger player. There are so many lessons that our kids can learn from playing the game of baseball…

‘If we do all the little things right, then we’ll never have a big thing to worry about.’ – Cal Ripken, Sr.

Enter The Ripken Way. If you know anything about baseball, you’ve heard of the Ripkens.

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Cal Ripken, Sr. was with the Orioles for 37 years as a player, coach and manager. Although his career was successful, Cal Sr.’s legacy is his love of the game and the wisdom that he instilled in players… and the wisdom that has continued to be passed down through others. He spent thousands of hours working with players, teaching them the fundamentals, about hard work, and about the other pieces of character building that would become known as The Ripken Way. His sons, Cal Jr. and Bill now continue the legacy through Ripken Baseball, which offers a virtual learning academy, youth camps, and travel team tournaments that teach kids their unique method.

My favorite topic of The Ripken Way is that baseball is a game of fundamentals. This is so true in life, isn’t it? Here’s an excerpt that explains the importance of fundamentals:

You’ll find an emphasis on the basic fundamentals of baseball at the foundation of every big leaguer’s career. But in today’s highly competitive youth baseball environment, players can miss out on the focused training that’s needed to truly rise to the next level. That’s why a camp experience is so important for young ballplayers.

Every chance we get to make an impression on a young ballplayer, Ripken Baseball stresses the importance of mastering the game’s fundamental building blocks. The players who advance from recreational leagues and travel teams to high school and college or beyond are those who master the fundamentals to the point that they become second nature. They don’t go out and practice fielding bad-hop ground balls, making diving catches or backhanding balls deep in the hole. Instead they field routine groundball after routine groundball, fine tuning the proper mechanics necessary to catch the ball and throw it accurately after the catch. Derek Jeter catches a groundball and throws it to first base the exact same way that your 10-year-old should. Be sure that your son or daughter’s coach is taking the time to teach the fundamentals during practice.

It’s so important to know the basics… and not just to know them, but to practice them so much that they become second nature. This is a good lesson for us all! Check out the opportunities that are offered for youth baseball players to attend a summer camp with Ripken Baseball: 2015 Youth Baseball Camps.

Team Mom Tips:

Are you a new sports mom? My biggest advice to you would be to:

  1. Stay positive. Encourage from the sidelines, don’t coach. Save that for after the game when you’re working on skills at home.
  2. Get to know the other moms! As an introvert, this isn’t the easiest thing for me. I tend to stay in my little chair and watch. So what did I do this year? I became Team Mom! If you’re an introvert also, consider jumping in! I loved getting to know other moms this year because I got out of my comfort zone a little.

Giveaway of Ripken Baseball Instructional Package!

Ripken Baseball has agreed to give away The Ripken Way Instructional Bundle, with 3 DVDs of hitting, pitching, and defense for one lucky reader! This retails for $59. Would you like to use this awesome teaching tool with your son/daughter? Leave me a comment on this post. I’ll keep the giveaway open until Thursday, July 16th at midnight. Winner will be announced here and you will receive an email from me! Make sure to leave your email address in the comment. 🙂

Untangled by Carey Scott – A Book Review

I knew I wanted to review Untangled because I think the world of my friend, Carey Scott. I also knew that insecurity has been a constant struggle throughout my life. What I didn’t know was how much Carey’s words would resonate with my own experiences… and touch my heart! I’m so thankful for the transparency in this girl. Thankful that she allowed God to get into the innermost parts and open up a vulnerability that we ALL needed to see… and one that is so seldom shared.

Scott_Untangled_wSpine.inddAbout the Book: 

Untangled unpacks the struggle women have with feeling like who we are and what we do is good enough. We’re bombarded with daily reminders that we just don’t measure up. And unfortunately, we’re listening.

We might feel insignificant as a wife or ineffective as a mom. We might feel worthless because we don’t fit the world’s definition of beauty or battle feelings of rejection because of other women. We may gauge our value based on our income or how well we cook and clean.

Or honestly, it could be a million other things.

The truth is, there’s no shortage of not-good-enough messages tangling our lives every day. And unless we understand what they’re doing to us and ask God to unknot the insecurities that are choking our sense of worth, we will never have a healthy self-esteem.

This book is my story—my journey—to find the good in me, and to learn how to silence the voices that have called me I’m worthless. Chances are it’s your story too. Insecurity is a thread that knits us together as women.

But there is hope.

The God who created us on purpose is relentless in pursuit of our healing. And He is the only One who can heal our black and blue hearts from the tangles that have bruised it. When we ask Him to heal us, He will.

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:17-18)

Do you want to be untangled from the insecurities that have knotted up your self-worth? Are you tired of feeling like you just don’t have what it takes? Do you want to find joy in life and contentment with yourself?

It’s time, friend.

Untangled is an honest discussion about the things that make us feel worthless. It’s not another self-help book. It doesn’t offer to fix you. And it isn’t full of empty promises. Instead it will challenge you to take a truthful look at your life, revealing the source of your own not-good-enough messages and making a case for why Jesus is the only One who can silence them.

Told with humor, vulnerability, and encouragement, this book will connect with the heart of every women.

18835864485_8786009508_mAbout the Author:

Carey Scott is an author, speaker, and certified Bible life coach who challenges women to be real – not perfect – even when real is messy. She speaks to women’s groups and writes an online devotional designed to help women be who God created them to be. She lives in Colorado with her husband and their two children.

Keep up with Carey at careyscotttalks.com, on Facebook (careyscotttalks) or by following her on Twitter (@careyscotttalks).

My Review:

From the time I started reading Untangled, it was like I was sitting across the table at Starbucks talking with a dear friend. Carey speaks my language for sure, and it seemed like we were kindred spirits in so many ways. She is REAL in this book… something I believe we all need a LOT more of. If we’re honest, we all are insecure about something… and Carey helps us to realize that we are definitely not alone.

Through chapters of talking about real-life struggles, and offering us what God says about those struggles, she helps us all learn how to break free of our personal tangles. If it’s something that happened in childhood, an insecurity about our physical bodies, our abilities, etc… Carey leads us on a journey to allow God to untangle our messy lives and our messy hearts.

I’m so thankful for Carey, for her heart, and for her vulnerable story on paper. This is a book for every woman to read. It’s not a typical self-help book… you’ll feel like you’re hearing from one of your closest friends!! Seriously, go buy it today and see how God uses it in your life!

Also, make sure you check out untangledwomen.com to find out your specific tangle(s) and to learn more about how to become untangled!

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of Untangled: Let God Loosen the Knots of Insecurity in Your Life from Revell in exchange for an honest review on my blog. This review expresses my own personal opinions.

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A Friend In Me: Book Review

A Friend In Me: How to Be a Safe Haven for Other Women introduces us to the issues that prevent Christian women from building strong inter-generational friendships. It presents a case for why it’s important for us, as women, to get past our differences and join together for the cause of Christ.

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About the Book: 

Young women long for relational connection with women further ahead of them on the journey. Yet, without realizing it, many of us tend to distance ourselves from those in younger generations.

Can we really have close relationships with women who have different thoughts on church, different experiences with family, and different ways of talking about God? Where do we start?

In A Friend in Me, Pam Lau shows you how to be a safe place for the younger women in your life. She offers five patterns women need to internalize and practice for initiating relationships and talking about issues such as faith, forgiveness, sexuality, and vocation. Most significantly, she reminds you that there doesn’t need to be a divide between generations of women. Together, we can have a global impact—and experience a deeper faith than we’ve ever known.

About the Author:slideONE3

Pamela Havey Lau is the author of A Friend in Me, Soul Strength and numerous articles for such publications as Christian Scholar’s Review and Christianity Today. A graduate of Liberty University and Colorado State University, she has taught writing at George Fox University and speaks around the country at conferences and retreats.

After her three daughters were born, Lau began teaching writing at private day schools until 2010 when she started her own business, Real Life Real Image, where she writes, edits and speaks. Lau is married to Dr. Brad Lau, a college administrator. The two make their home near Portland, Oregon, with their three daughters. 

Keep up with Pamela Havey Lau at www.pamelalau.com, on Facebook (pamela.h.lau) or by following her on Twitter(@pamelahaveylau).

My Review:

It is obvious that Pamela has a passion for bringing older women and younger women together in relationship. A Friend In Me addresses and tackles many of the issues that stand in the way of strong Christlike relationships within multiple generations. Basically, the older generations feel that they can’t relate with the younger, and vice versa. However, if we can get past this and take the time to LEARN about each other, we can do a lot to further the kingdom. If the older generations can REMEMBER what it was like to be young, they can offer a lot of experience and help to the younger women. This is a great read for anyone who is involved in women’s ministry… it’s a call for us to have a different, Christ-centered, newer mindset for reaching younger women for Christ. It’s a book that teaches us that ministry is about relationship, not our events.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of A Friend In Me: How to Be a Save Haven for Other Women from Litfuse in exchange for an honest review on my blog. This review expresses my own personal opinions.

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Never Say No: Book Review

Never Say No: Raising Big-Picture Kids is a parenting book like none I’ve read before. It is an invitation to grace-filled parenting that helps our kids explore who they are created to be individually. Mark and Jan very intentionally raised their kids to fulfill their greater purposes in this life.

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About the Book: 

The question Mark and Jan Foreman are most often asked is: How did you raise your kids?

Never Say No takes you on a personal journey to learn first-hand how they raised Jon and Tim of Switchfoot. They share practical advice for instilling wonder in a media-saturated culture, cultivating specific gifts, and balancing structure with individual choice. Our purpose as parents is the same as our child’s: to live creatively beyond ourselves, bringing the love, beauty and nature of God to this world. Let the adventure begin.

Mark & Jan Foreman live in the San Diego area, where Mark is lead pastor of North Coast Calvary Chapel in Carlsbad, California. Mark is the author of Wholly Jesus, and holds advanced degrees in Theology, Education, and a Ph.D. in Counseling & Pastoral Care.

Jan is a gifted teacher and artist, and also facilitates partnerships with underprivileged women and children both locally and in developing countries.

Together, they love surfing, sailing, travel and especially being with their family.

My Review:

This book opened my eyes to a different way of looking at parenthood. Well, maybe not really different, but it opened my eyes to things I’m doing which are contrary to what I believe I SHOULD be doing. Never Say No is basically an invitation to lead your children to become the best they can be… to truly become who God is calling them to be. In essence, we need to spend more time saying “yes” to them than we spend saying “no.” It’s not saying that we don’t need to discipline and correct… it’s saying that we need to spend more time WITH our children. Understanding them. Guiding them. Letting them be free to find themselves. We need to help our kids understand that there is a greater purpose behind every choice they make, which develops character and strength. It is not a rules-oriented way of parenting. Instead it is a way to help them learn to make choices with integrity, and it is also a beautiful way for the family to be a closer unit. This is a must-read, in my opinion, for every parent or every future parent!

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of Never Say No: Raising Big Picture Kids from Litfuse in exchange for an honest review on my blog. This review expresses my own personal opinions.

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